How to Figure Out What Your Pet is Trying to Tell You

The language barrier between humans and our four-legged friends makes communication with our pets difficult. However, if you know what to look for, you can effectively decipher what your pet is trying to tell you. Often, animals will act out in ways that provide us insight into their needs. Armed with the right information, you can more easily determine if your pet is displaying a warning sign of an illness.

Dr. Jeff Werber, a Los Angeles based veterinarian, encourages pet owners to be aware of common symptoms of illnesses. Dr. Jeff said, “Only a healthy pet is a happy companion. Assuring your pet’s daily well-being requires regular care and close attention to any hint of ill health.”

Education is a great way to start effective communication between pets and their owners. An awareness of normal/abnormal pet behavior can open the door to understanding the needs of your animal.  If your pet displays any of the following issues, contact your local veterinarian:

Learn 8 Common Illness Signals from Pets

  • Click through to increase your pet awareness. 1 of 9
    Article Collage
  • Problems Eating 2 of 9

    Dr. Jeff said, "If your dog approaches his food bowl as if to eat, but then stops, or takes a bite then drops it, or seems to be repelled from eating, he may be experiencing pain in his mouth, possibly from severe gum or dental disease, nausea, or a masticatory (chewing) muscle problem."

    (Photo from parvotreatment.)

  • Unquenchable Thirst or Constant Urination 3 of 9

    Dr. Jeff said, "If your dog drinks water and/or urinates excessively, he or she may be suffering from one of three conditions: Cushing's disease, diabetes (both mellitus and insipidus), or a urogenital related condition (kidney disease, bladder stones, bladder infection, etc.)."

    (Photo from PetMD)

  • Weakness or Shivering 4 of 9
    cold dog

    Dr. Jeff said, "If your dog exhibits episodic weakness or shivers/shakes as if she is cold, she may be suffering from Addison's Disease, which is an under secretion of the adrenal glands resulting in insufficient levels of cortisol, making body temperature regulation difficult and contributes to muscle weakness and an inability to respond to stress."

    (Photo from aspca pet insurance)

  • Difficulty with Transition from Laying to Standing 5 of 9

    Dr. Jeff said, "If your older dog has a tough time getting up, or lying down, and this decline has been progressive over time, it may simply indicate arthritis or a progressive spine, disc, or muscle breakdown, which may be treatable with natural Glucosamine and Chondroitin supplements (like Pro Sense Joint Care) with alternative modalities like laser therapy and/or acupuncture. In more severe cases your veterinarian can prescribe medications. If, however, your dog has an acute onset of this difficulty, it more likely suggests an injury or an event, in which case a history of activity and responses over the preceding days is critical in an attempt to localize the problem."

    (Photo from greenbriarpets)

  • Dry Heaving 6 of 9

    Dr. Jeff said, "If your dog makes multiple attempts to vomit, but can only dry heave, if he appears sluggish, if his stomach starts to appear distended, this could indicate gastric bloat and torsion (where the stomach twists on its own axis), a true emergency, most likely requiring immediate surgery." 

    (Photo from Welcome Pup)

  • Poor Grooming Habits 7 of 9
    cat grooming

    Dr. Jeff said, "If your cat stops grooming it may signal sickness or a problem with the mouth. When a cat is sick, one of the first signs will be failure to maintain grooming habits."

    (Photo from MyPetEd)

  • Yowling 8 of 9
    cat howling

    Dr. Jeff said, "If your female cat starts making weird howling cries, she may not be fixed and you can expect "suitors" at the door. And if your male cat makes weird howling cries, he's picked up the scent of that female!"

    (Photo from flickr, JustUs3)

  • Too Much Time in the Litter Box 9 of 9

    Dr. Jeff said, "If your cat makes frequent trips in and out of the litter box, which appear to be unsuccessful, perhaps crying while attempting to urinate, this may signal a urethral blockage, which is a true emergency, requiring immediate intervention."  

    (Photo from



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Article Posted 3 years Ago

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